Even if you’re not an enterprise IT person, you’re probably familiar with the trend of technology moving to “the cloud.” In a nutshell, moving to the cloud involves replacing IT assets owned by the enterprise and residing in its own datacenter with applications and services owned by a third-party provider, which (hopefully) delivers the same or better functionality via a service paid for on a recurring basis. The cloud is one of the most important enablers of the new ways that employees are working.
IT people often have to remind themselves that technology’s role is, in fact, as an enabler, and not as an end in itself. There’s a great article this week on our sister website No Jitter that comes from this IT perspective while also demonstrating what the rest of the business needs to know about how technology enables new workplace strategies. The post’s author, IT consultant John Bartlett, lists eight steps in the cloud migration process, starting with choosing a solution. This is the step that most directly touches business units, HR leaders, and even Real Estate/Facilities groups.
John lists a number of things that IT leaders should consider before they start specifying their proposed technology solution. These include:
- Capabilities the solution must deliver in order to provide business results
- “What collaboration are you hoping to enable? Employees within departments or across departments and wide geographies? Are you hoping to collaborate with customers, vendors, or outside services that support your business?”
- Where the collaboration is taking place (within the office, remotely, mobile work)
- “What types of interactions will you be supporting? A distributed meeting is different than a joint working session. A teaching environment needs additional capabilities. Do you need language translation services in your meeting? Do you need automated note-taking?”
Of course, the only way for IT leaders to get the answers to these questions is to talk with business unit representatives and end users. This didn’t used to be as critical, because the range of choices for technology enablers was so limited: Users could have a telephone; a computer equipped with email and an office productivity suite; and… well that was pretty much it.
But the cloud expands the range of choices to include team messaging applications like Slack or Microsoft Teams, affordable videoconferencing, project management tools, and more. Another thing the cloud does is to make it possible for end users to simply start using these new tools themselves, without bothering to ask IT for permission or maybe even asking the business unit for budget. Many of the new cloud-based tools are free to start using.
Employees’ technology preferences and decisions will inevitably affect their choices about how and where to work. Better collaboration and video tools make remote work easier to do, and software-based communications apps let users have the same interface to their collaboration on all their devices, enabling more impromptu collaboration and more mobility even within the office.
Ultimately, enterprises need a holistic way of understanding how technology evolution is affecting the process of collaboration. Enterprise IT, HR, and Facilities/Real Estate leaders need to be working together on an ongoing basis to create the best possible collaboration culture. That’s why we’re holding our first-ever WorkSpace Connect Summit on March 30 in Orlando, Fla. This day-long conference will feature in-depth sessions from experts across these three disciplines; if workplace strategy is important to you and your enterprise, I encourage you to check out the program and consider joining us.